Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I bought a new filter for my camera. It makes points of light into a starburst. I'm still getting the hang of it but here is my tree:We've been having a busy but good week. The kids are out of school and we've been running errands, buying presents, cleaning and all sorts of good stuff to get ready for Christmas. On Saturday we will be going to Roan Mountain for the week. Since we will be celebrating Christmas there with my family, we had our own little Christmas here last night. The kids were so funny. They were very happy with their gifts. Our big family gift this year was the Wii. They were VERY excited. We've managed to steer clear of the big gaming systems, but we caved on this one since it does offer a modicum of physical excercise! I hooked it up last night and we've all been having fun with it today.

I need to start packing and I probably won't be posting again until we get back, so have a Very Merry Christmas!

Roan Quote: While opening a present, he was so excited he said, "I'll bet this is....SOMETHING!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Monday night, Alyssa had her Christmas concert. They sounded great! This is Alyssa's last year in the District Honor Choir as next year she'll be too old!

video

Last night I went out with my friend Deborah to take pictures at the 'Lights Before Christmas' at the zoo.

We had a fun time followed by dinner at Cracker Barrell.

This morning Roan had his little Christmas program. He was so cute in his cow costume!


video

Roan Quote: One day Roan was watching TV in the living room while I was in the office. Roan called out to me, “Mommy, you can own Mr. Bean’s Holiday TODAY!” Then a few minutes later, he came into the office and informed me that I can get a complete cake decorating set for only $9.99! I told him I already have one and he asked, “Do you have a spreading knife?” I laughed and said, “Yes!” He went back out and a moment later, called out again, “It makes HOMEMADE cakes!”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our Weekend

This past weekend Dean was in Alabama for a marathon. He made another PR (personal record) with 3:20. His next marathon is in February in Myrtle Beach, SC. Then a week later, he'll be running the Mt. Mitchell Ultra-marathon (40miles). Whew!

While he was gone, I took the kids to see 'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium'. Then we picked up Brandy and the girls and went to drive through the Living Nativity. We've never done that before. It was cool.

Saturday morning I took Alyssa to choir practice, then the boys and I went Christmas shopping. After lunch we went to Kai and Alyssa's Martial Arts Open House. That night we all watched a movie at home. Dean came home just before midnight.

Sunday was a nice relaxing day. Dean had this Sunday off in Kid's Cove so we had a nice slow morning and went to the third service. Sunday evening Dean and I went on a DATE! We had received a gift card to Outback Steakhouse from a friend. After dinner, we hung out a little while at Barnes & Noble. Nice day.

Here's an ornament for you. It was one of the first ornaments we bought as a married couple. We bought it at the North Carolina State Fair from an artist who hand cuts the paper in one piece (called Scherenschnitte) then places it between beveled glass. It's very pretty.

Also, last night my NINE year old, Kai, was playing outside. He came running in to borrow my camera to take a picture of the sunset. He did a great job! Here it is:


Roan Quote: I asked Roan why he always has to jump and climb. (on me) He said, “Mommy. Look how big I am.” I said, “I know, but why do you have to jump and climb?” He said, “I’m six years old!” …….He’s five.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Irmo Tree Lighting Ceremony

Tuesday night Alyssa's sang with the Honor Choir at the Irmo Tree Lighting Ceremony. She did great. Afterwards, they had hot chocolate and cookies. Then a fire truck arrived with Santa. It was a fun little evening!

Dean is going to Alabama tomorrow for another marathon. While he's gone, we'll probably drive through a living nativity and catch a movie or something. (I suppose I should throw a little house cleaning in there, too...) Also, Saturday, Alyssa has a rehearsal for her Christmas concert followed by Kai and Alyssa's Tae Kwon Do Christmas Open House.

Congratulations to my sister-in-law, Terri-Ann! Yesterday, she had a baby boy! His name is Evan. This is her third child. Alyssa was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a girl! Poor thing, I keep telling her that a baby girl won't be born 11 years old, and an infant would do her little good, but she doesn't care, she just sees that the cousins are woefully tilted toward the boy side. All together there are now 5 boys and 3 girls. Andrea, you are her last hope to even things out!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Brilliant.

I went to the mall today. I had a couple gifts to purchase. I figured I'd make my purchases, then grab lunch at the food court on the way out. I got what I needed rather quickly, so I browsed in a couple other stores for a few minutes. When I was ready to leave I went to the food court, arriving just after the six school buses unloaded about a million kids. I wonder whose brilliant idea THAT was.

I'd like to write them a strongly worded letter.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Photo Contest

In October, I entered the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden's first photo contest. I entered all four categories. My photo of a cactus won first place in the 'Floral Close-up' category!



Also, my frog photo won second place in the 'Garden Critter' category:




Alyssa also entered the youth division and won second place with her flower:

The prizes are some bulbs from the gardens, a private after-hours photo shoot in the gardens, and our photos/names will be in The State Newspaper in January, and the Riverbanks Zoo magazine in March. The winning photos (top 20) are on display right now at the zoo in the Discovery Center during the holidays, and they are also on the zoo's website where the public can vote for the Grand Prize Winner. (I don't know what the prize is...) So, if you want to vote, go to the website and look at the top left of the page. It is one of the rotating ads.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Honor of Those Yet Living...

The other day I was reading someone’s blog. The author's mother had passed away. In remembrance of her he told a hilarious childhood story and added other wonderful things that she would have been so blessed to hear. That got me thinking: it's so common to wait until someone is gone before we honor them.

That blog also made me think about my own mother. She’s still here and Lord willing, will remain for many years to come. I love my mom. I tell her all the time. My respect, love and admiration for her is no secret. Today I want to honor her by telling YOU about her. (This is going to be a bit of a long post, but bear with me, she’s worth it!)

My mom was raised by conservative Advent Christian parents in Maine. She grew up on a farm practically an only child. She had an older brother, but he was 11 years older. It wasn’t long before he grew up and out. Her parents were committed, loving parents who followed the Lord and raised her to do the same.

Alice & Arnold ~ My mom's parents

She met my dad at Berkshire Christian College and fell in love. She was a year younger and her dad wouldn’t give them his blessing for marraige unless she first graduated and worked one year as a teacher. After some ‘high-level’ negotiations (says dad) they managed to talk him out of the one year of work. Then she put her nose to the grindstone and managed to graduate a year early. How romantic is that?

My mom and dad are a team. There is no other way to put it. As newlyweds they worked to became missionaries. They intended to go to Mexico; in fact, I came very close to being born there! However, God had something else in mind. Dad became a pastor in a little church in Clearwater, Fl. and they were there for 24 years.

My dad wasn't just any pastor. He was the real thing. He was a true shepherd and people loved him. They are currently co-leading a Messianic congregation in Raleigh, NC, but that is only a portion of their ministry. Their heart is for Israel. Their primary ministry as they see it (they’ve been praying about this for the past two years) is to help people see the current prophetic importance in what’s going on in Israel and also locally. Their prayer is Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:15-17:

“And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Their sights have been raised from pastoral, ministering to individuals, to apostolic, ministering to the nations.

But I don’t think he could’ve been who he is today without my mom. She was always there for him. She has played many of the typical rolls of pastor’s wife (especially in a small church); secretary, teacher, singer, counselor, and with dad, confidant and friend. I think the best way to describe my mom is as ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman’. I think anyone who is familiar with this passage wants to be her. My mom is.

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

noˈbility1 [-ˈbi-] noun: nobleness of mind, character, or spirit; exalted moral excellence, quality of being excellent or rare. This describes her perfectly. Ask anyone she knows.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

My dad will ABSOLUTELY be the FIRST person to tell you this. She is committed and loving. She takes care of him and he cherishes her. She loves him. She is his partner. You will not hear her say a bad word about him. He knows this. He trusts her and values her opinion. They make joint decisions. They are equals.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

My mom sews. I used to fall asleep near Christmas time to the sound of the sewing machine in the next room. She made us clothes and many other things. One time we realized the night before school started that I didn’t have a pencil case. I woke up the next morning and she had made me one with my name on it. (I still have it!) She made clothes for my doll. She made us costumes. When I was little I really wanted a Ziggy doll. (Remember those?) She made me one. I still have that, too. If she had gone out and bought it for me, do you think I’d still have it? When cabbage patch dolls came out my sister really wanted one, so she made one for her. She made my other sister a ceramic doll that she hand painted, sewed the clothes and used my sister’s own hair for the head. Another thing I still have is my wedding gown that she made for me. It’s made out of silk and French lace and she did a beautiful job.

She also made my sisters’ wedding gowns.


























She is very crafty and creative. In the course of my life I have seen her sew, knit, paint ceramics, learn calligraphy, make jewelry, quilt, paint with watercolors, you name it. And she’s good at it! She’s also very musical. She sings beautifully and currently helps lead worship at their church. She plays the flute, the piccolo, a bit of piano and has even learned how to play the harp.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family…

My mom is a great cook. She always cooked for us. (Something I especially value now that I have to do it!) Our family used to vacation at Roan Mt., TN in the summer. Our favorite breakfast was when we grilled fresh trout and had mom’s fried potatoes and homemade applesauce. Now, we meet at Roan Mt. every other Christmas and we always look forward to her yummy Brunswick Stew. One favorite tradition was on our birthday we got to choose what we wanted for dinner and she always made it. One year I asked for Lasagna (she makes the best lasagna) with cabbage/vinegar on the side and I think strawberry cake. I know, it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but she made it anyway. On my 16th birthday I was a little depressed because my dad was out of town, and I had to go to SCHOOL on my BIRTHDAY! The HORROR! But mom redeemed my birthday when she walked into my choir room right in the middle of class with a huge birthday cake.

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

While her chief ‘vocation’ has been to help my dad in ministry, she has often needed to help supplement their income. Among other things, she was a real estate agent, a school teacher, and a free-lance artist making clay jewelry for a local company.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

I don’t think my parents will ever have a huge church. Their ministry tends to be towards those not always excepted in ‘popular’ society for various reasons. Yet, they are welcomed by my parents. Because of their interesting and eclectic ‘followers,’ not very many mainstream people stick around very long. It’s too uncomfortable for some. My mom once had a vision of a giant harvester, (one of those huge machines that mows down and collects the grain from a field), representing the large churches, reaping God’s harvest. In her vision their little church walked behind the machine, as gleaners, picking up the pieces that were dropped and left behind.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

As pastor and wife of a small church, we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, but we always had what we needed. Often our home was decorated with objects of her own creation. And the ‘has no fear for her household’ comes from her unwavering faith and trust in God's provision. Do you know that one time, my parents stood and watched their house burn down and all of their plans go up in smoke along with many family heirlooms? My mom stood there watching the 40 ft. flames and said, “I’m glad I wore my comfortable shoes!” They said they experienced the supernatural ‘peace that passes understanding’. (Philippians 4:6-7) Everybody said it would hit them eventually in a few days or weeks. It is now seven years later and it hasn’t hit them yet. They knew that the heirlooms were just things they couldn’t take with them to heaven anyway, and that He had plans for them that were in a different direction from the one they had been heading. God would provide for their needs. And He did.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

My dad is wonderful. People love and respect him for many reasons of his own making. But how long would that respect last if his own wife bad mouthed him every chance she got? What if she complained about every little thing he does that bugged her? What if she argued with him in public? She doesn’t. One time when I was a teenager, someone told me they could not imagine my parents fighting. They never heard a cross word. I thought that was funny, because of course, I lived in the same house with them. I knew they fought. However, I never heard them disrespect each other, and anytime they fought in front of us, they made sure we saw them resolve the issue. If my mom respects my dad, how can others not do the same?

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

As I’ve mentioned previously, she has often sewn or made things as needed, for us, for others, or to help earn money for the family.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

My mom is a classy lady. I have to give some of that credit to her mom. My grammy did a great job. I have never heard my mom use foul language. She is firm in her faith, and lives what she believes. She is HAPPY. (I’ll give my dad some credit for that!) My parents are the true representation of Christ and the church. She is secure and confident in God’s ongoing provision in their lives.

Les & Doreen ~ my parents

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

I cannot express this any better. ‘She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.' I seriously value her opinion and trust in her knowledge of God and the bible. I’ve always felt like when it comes to God, my parents have access to the RED phone! You know, I am 38 years old and I still call my mom for advice on just about anything, from spiritual matters to how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving without an oven. She is on my side. When I was in 5th grade I was having some trouble with a teacher. I felt the teacher didn't like me. Naturally, her response was to support the teacher and council me that it wasn’t true, which is good and right and, one would like to think, usually true. However, after a parent/teacher conference, she came home and told me, “You’re right; your teacher doesn’t like you.” And you know what? I didn’t care one whit. I cared that my mom didn’t approach my teacher with blinders on. She looked for the truth and supported me when called for. What a blessing to have that confidence in her.

When I was a teenager she always took time out for me. I had two sisters, so having a little one-on-one with mom was special. We used to go to the Village Inn Restaurant to have a piece of pie and talk about boys. My parents had been praying for my future husband since I was a child. So she was (as any mother is) interested in my romantic life. We shared these moments until I met the right boy. I talked about Dean and how much I loved him and missed him (long story, long distance relationship). Mom gave sage advice. I followed it, and the rest is history. We haven’t really done the ‘pie thing’ since I got married 18 years ago, until last year for Christmas. She gave me a card with a picture of a piece of pie on it. The card stated that she was taking me to Charleston for a three day weekend. Just us.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her house is always clean. She may scoff at this and I didn’t exactly live in a museum growing up, but I now have three kids of my own and I can say with 100% confidence that her house is clean. I know this because mine is NOT.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Chrismahannakwanzikkah!

A couple weeks ago we had our church's 10th anniversary. It was really fun. We had our original worship leaders back as guest singers and I sang in the ensemble. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A week ago Tony Campolo spoke at our church. He was really great. I remember hearing him speak as a teenager. He's almost 80 (I think) and still has tremendous energy. At one point he told a story about a movie he saw back in the 50's. It showed a knight playing a game of chess with the devil. They played the game throughout the movie as the story unfolded. At the end Satan made his final move and said checkmate. The movie was over. Sitting in the audience was a man who had just won the national chess tournament. He started saying, "Why did the knight just quit?" His friend asked what he meant. The man answered, "He has another play, the king has one more move!" I loved this story! Don't give up on God or give Satan too much credit, because our King still has one more move!
Alyssa finally had her 'birthday party'! Her birthday was in June, but due to any number of circumstances it kept getting pushed back, but we had promised her this party so we finally did it in November! We called it her 'Tardy Party'. She invited a few friends for a sleepover and they basically sang 'High School Musical' karaoke the whole time! They had a great time.
Last week Roan had a little Thanksgiving program at his preschool. He was very cute.We had a very nice Thanksgiving this year. Since it was just us, we invited a friend, Jason, to join us. It was quiet and peaceful, yes, even with the kids!

Friday morning, Dean got up at 4:00 am to go to Kohl's. When he got home at 5:30, I went to Kmart and Target. We found a few good deals. One of our favorites is a new 7 piece luggage set for $50. We are excited about this because we've been using our old suitcases for 20 years! We were also happy to find a 2GB SD card for $7. I got a gold bracelet for $10 and we also bought a few presents. Dean played basketball that morning while I went back to bed!

Friday evening we put up the Christmas tree. Similar to the suitcases, we've been using the same Christmas tree since 1990! And keep in mind that when we bought the tree, we were living in a tiny 200 sq. ft. one bedroom apartment, so it was small! Our current living room has cathedral ceilings so we would put the tree on the short side of the room on boxes. Needless to say, we needed a new tree, so last year we finally chucked it and bought a real tree. After Christmas we bought a new fake one on sale. We bought it rather sight unseen, so we weren't sure we would like it, but we do! It's bigger and pre-lit and most importantly, NO BOXES.

I got up early Saturday morning for worship team rehearsal, then we had a quick lunch at Moe's before I went to work. Sunday morning was long because I sang for three services. I was there from 7am to 1pm, but I enjoy it, so no biggie. At home later I took a 2 hour nap! Nice! Roan however, got a black eye when he fell off a trampoline! He said he didn't cry, though!
We also had a lot of fun this weekend with the kids. Dean took Roan with him when he played basketball, which he loved. Alyssa was a 'cat-sitter' for a friend who went out of town for the holidays. She was thrilled. (Her own cat , however, was not too happy about it!) Dean took the kids to Foot Action and bought them all new shoes at their 70% off sale. I took them to see 'Enchanted' which was really fun. Someone on another blog described it as "perfectly, purposefully, self-effacingly cheesy, which makes it not annoyingly cheesy at all, but just really funny" which I thought was a pretty apt description. We also had a couple movies from Netflix that we watched together as a family. (We love our family movie nights!) We watched 'Transformers' and 'Fantastic Four-Rise of the Silver Surfer'.

Last night I watched 'Little Miss Sunshine' which, while it had it's moments, over all I didn't like very much.

Enjoy your holidays and remember the Reason for the season!

And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2: 10-14

Roan Quote: After we finished decorating the house for Christmas, I asked Roan if he liked it. He said, "Yes, it looks like we live in a gingerbread house!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

In keeping with the holiday, and due to the encouragement and inspiration of my friends Deborah and Christina, I dedicate this post to thanking God for everything he has done in my life.

I thank Him for my husband (who doesn't watch football on Thanksgiving, or any other time, really!) and for my three beautiful children. I thank Him for my home, my church family, and friends. I am thankful for beauty in nature, animals and the rest of creation. I am thankful for the Riverbanks Zoo, Lake Murray, the rivers, and all the other beautiful places here in Columbia. I am thankful for the mountains, and the beach. I am thankful for my camera so I can take pictures of it all.

I am thankful for my in-laws. I am thankful for spring and autumn. I am thankful for cats. I thank God for medicine, painkillers, and 21st century doctors. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. I am thankful for air-conditioning, refrigerators and microwaves. I am thankful for my computer and the internet. I am thankful for library's. I thank God for vacations, airplanes, and elevators. I am thankful for Creme Brulee and Tiramisu and really all things edible.

I am thankful for the United States and my freedom. I am thankful for all the soldiers who risk their lives to protect mine. I am thankful for my parents and my sisters who all love the Lord and support and love each other. I am thankful for music and the opportunity to sing for Him on the worship team. I am thankful for my pastor and all others who have committed their lives to God in an extraordinary way by living every day according to His will in service to Him. And I'm thankful to God for not giving up on me because "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rudeness

Here are 3 examples of unadulterated rudeness that has been foisted upon me in the past week:
  1. I was driving out of my neighborhood on the way to take my kids to school. There was a school bus ahead, so, naturally we couldn't pass it. I pulled up behind the car in front of me, also waiting for the bus. As we sit there waiting, I wonder what is taking so long. The kids all appear to be on the bus, nothing happening. Then I notice coming up behind me a high school aged girl walking, slowly, with NO apparent concern or embarrassment that she is holding up a whole school bus and at least two cars. She just took her time walking to the bus, didn't even pretend to pick up her pace. My 'rage' is such, that in these situations if I wasn't such a big chicken, I'd probably get myself in a lot of trouble.
  2. I was at the grocery store and had just packed all my groceries and Roan into the van. As I was backing out, a car pulled up behind me and stopped. A man got out of the driver's seat, while a woman got out of the passenger's seat and went around and got in the driver's seat. It appears they were dropping off the man. Now, I know they may not of noticed me when they first stopped and this switch can be done quite quickly and it really should have been no big deal. EXCEPT that the man looked up and noticed me backed halfway out of my space with my brake lights on and proceeded to talk to the woman, reach down and pinch her cheek (what the?), talk some more, then pinch her cheek AGAIN! I swear, I wish I had some guts, but then I'd either be dead or in jail.
  3. This morning, I was working out, and watching TV. It would seem obvious that I was watching since I was looking right at it and didn't have headphones in or anything. Halfway through the show, someone changed the channel! Then a few minutes later, someone else came in a turned the sound off! Sometimes there is this one guy who changes the channel to Sports Center. Aaargh! It is usually mostly women on that side of the room, can't we leave it on something more neutral, like the Today Show, or even just the news? But Sports Center? Come on. And back to this morning, it is the height of rudeness to change the channel like that in a public place without checking if someone was actually watching what was on. And then to just turn the sound off so you can hear your private earphones better?

I even had a run-in with a very rude child but I won't go into that except to say, what kind of parents...? In all but one of these examples there is a cultural common denominator that I don't understand. I don't see why just because xyz.. you can't have or teach your children to have good manners. About the worst lapse in manners my children have are forgetting to say please or thank-you. (They would never consider calling an adult an idiot.)

Sorry about my little rant. I know in the scheme of things, these are really no big deal, and I'm sure lots of people deal with worse every day, but some days I just want to smack people. Or turn them over my knee...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Back to Life...

…back to reality. Things have been a bit chaotic the last couple of weeks. Dean went out of town last weekend for 4 days to run the NYC marathon. He got some great pics this time because he bought a new camera that he can carry with him when he runs. It’s a Nikon Coolpix S51. It’s a great little camera. While he was there he also managed to shoot over to Connecticut for a day to visit family and go to an old friend’s surprise birthday party. He came home for a day then left again for another 4 days on a business trip. *sigh*

Kai and Alyssa are going to camp for the weekend at Bethel. They are leaving tonight and will be home Sunday. Dean’s coming home tomorrow, so for a day it will just be us and Roan. We’re going to try to squeeze in a date before the kids come back if we can get a babysitter.

I had a biopsy last week to confirm diagnosis of an area of discoloration on my skin. It has officially been diagnosed as……….“a thin white patch”. Of course, there is a long medical term for it, but I can’t remember what it was. It’s no big deal though, as long as one doesn’t show up on my face!

I’m looking forward to this Sunday. Our church is having it’s tenth anniversary. The founding pastor and worship leaders are coming back and it’s going to be awesome. I’m singing in the ensemble. The reason we started going to this church was because the praise/worship was so awesome. It’s still great, but boy I loved the energy back then.
We just got first period report cards back and I’m proud to say that Alyssa got all A’s & B’s and has been invited to join the Jr. Beta Club. I’m also very proud to say that Kai got straight A’s! Way to go, guys!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Downtown Disney-Home

Well, this is it. Our last day. We ate breakfast at the hotel, then Dean took the kids for one last dip in the pool while I started packing. When we were ready to go, Dean and the kids started bringing stuff to the van when one of our souvenirs was dropped and broke. Not an auspicious start to the day.

Anyway, we wanted to shop around Downtown Disney before we went home, and our last lunch reservations were at Raglan Road located at Downtown Disney. Raglan Road is an Irish Pub and Restaurant. We were so stuffed by the end of this week that the kids did not order dessert! Dean shared a couple bites of his. My dessert was 'Bread & Butter Pudding' and it was the BEST dessert I'd had all week, including even the Creme' Brulee! Unfortunately, I couldn't even eat half of it, I was so full. I wouldn't have eaten what I did if it hadn't been so good.

After lunch, we went straight for the lego store. Dean and the kids had really been looking forward to this. Dean and I had been before, but not the kids. They all LOVE legos. This is how much they love legos:
All those drawers are FULL of legos, some from Dean's childhood. Anyway, we took lots of pictures and they all made a purchase.

Next we went to the toy store, made a couple purchases, and even bought our puzzle for Roan Mountain this year! We went to the scrapbook store, of course, and Ghiradelli's.

I can't believe after this whole week at Disney parks, I actually paid $2 for Roan to ride this train:

When we finally left Downtown Disney, we had one more stop to make. Dean decided to go back to Epcot where he could purchase a ticket, go back in to try to exchange our broken item for a new one (they are very nice about that kind of thing, it seems) and as long as he is out in one hour, he gets his money back. So, he ran in, we waited in the van, and he was back in exactly one hour with the new package. He even had pretzels and frozen lemonade for us all AND it was raining the whole time! Who's the man?!

So, as we were leaving, realizing that we each had 2 more snacks left on our dining plan and not wanting to waste them, we stopped again at Downtown Disney where Dean ran in and got our snacks for the trip home. Whew! We left Orlando at 6:30pm! We got home at 2am Sunday morning. It was a long trip because we were so tired (especially for Dean). The kids all fell asleep by about 10pm and were amazed at how quick the trip home was. LOL.

All this blogging has extended the vacation feeling a bit for me, but now that I'm done, I'm having a belated feeling of the 'We spent over five years planning for this trip and now it's over' doldrums. We had a wonderful family time and hopefully all this blogging will help keep the memories alive, especially for Roan since he's so young.

Roan Quote: While in Downtown Disney on the last day, after shopping, going back to Epcot, then back to Downtown Disney, I said to Roan, "As soon as Daddy gets back, we'll finally go home." Roan said, "Don't say finally!" I asked him why not and he said, "Because we LOVE Disney World!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hotel-Epcot

Well, things are winding down as you can tell by the few pictures in this post! Today is our last full day. We ate breakfast at the hotel then rented a 'Surrey'. This is a four seater 'bicycle'. Think 'The Flintstones'. We had fun riding around the paths along the water, and over bridges. Roan got to sit up friend and ring the bell to passers-by. After that, we went back to Epcot for lunch reservations at The Coral Reef Restaurant. (table-service) This restaurant is located next to the 'The Seas' aquarium. In fact, one whole wall of the restaurant was the aquarium! It was really cool. We sat in a 'clam shell' booth that faced the water.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool. Believe it or not, things had cooled down enough by now, that it was pretty chilly for swimming! I braved the water long enough to enjoy the slide one more time, then warmed up in the hot tub. The kids barely seems to notice the cold, of course. Roan's teeth were chattering, but he wouldn't admit he was cold.

We went back to the room and cleaned up before returning to Epcot. This was our last visit to a park. We rode 'Soarin' again, then visited the countries we had missed the first time, Great Britain, Canada, and France. (We had eaten dinner at France, but didn't get the chance to look around then) We bought a couple souvenirs, then headed back to see if we could ride the Speedway one more time but the line was about 2 hours long! At this point, the kids and I went back to the hotel and pretty much straight to bed by 9:30! Dean, however, loves Epcot, and stayed to wander the Showcase some more. He even managed a few more rides. He didn't get back until 1am! We were all worn out from our week of fun, but 'Mr. Marathon' was still raring to go! He enjoyed himself but missed us and that put a damper on the evening for him.

Tomorrow, the road home. (It's longer than you think!)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Magic Kingdom/Clearwater

We had to set the alarm to get up EARLY this morning. We have a big day ahead of us! Roan started the day out tired.

The poor kid was just not getting enough sleep. And he said his stomach hurt which was no wonder since he fell asleep before eating his dinner at the Rainforest Café. We went back to the Magic Kingdom first thing for breakfast at the Crystal Palace.


Roan was excited to see the Winnie the Pooh characters, but his joy was temporarily interrupted by a brief episode of vomiting in the bathroom! No wonder his stomach hurt! Fortunately it was empty! After that, he naturally felt much better and even ate a full breakfast. That was the end of that! He was fine. He even got pictures with all the characters.



The buffet was very good. Amy is the one who recommended the Crystal Palace Breakfast Buffet. Thanks Amy!

The other thing on our ‘to do’ list was to go ride Thunder Mountain Railroad which was closed the first day we were here but open now. We all loved it, even Roan! He had gone on several ‘Big Boy’ rides, this one being number 4. (Yes, he was keeping count!)

In the next picture you can see Dean and Roan right in the middle.

The ‘plan’ was to leave at this point but you and I know that was highly unrealistic. There was no way we were getting out of there yet. We rode Splash Mountain again, then walked through Adventure Land to buy something in a shop there. While passing Pirates of the Caribbean we saw an outdoor performance of Captain Jack and another pirate. Man, they were good! And the guy who played Captain Jack looked JUST like him! He even did a fair job of acting like him. We then walked back past the Castle catching the end of a show, and on to Tomorrow Land where Dean took Kai and Alyssa on Space Mountain again while I took Roan on the People Mover. THEN we left. The kids got to ride up front again in the monorail.

Now is when I potentially make a lot of people mad at me. We went to Clearwater. (ducks and hides) Yes, we did. In my defense, our plans weren’t concrete, we almost didn’t go at all and we were only there for a very short time. I apologize to all friends and family for not being able get together with you.

We arrived in Clearwater about 2:30. I had two goals. One, to show my kids where I grew up, and two, to show them a REAL beach. We’ve been to beaches here on the East Coast, and maybe there are some good ones, but in our experience, they are narrow gray beaches with more broken shells than sand. The water is dark and very wavy. I longed for the miles of powdery white sand and calmer waters of my youth. All three kids fell asleep in the van. Any wonder? We drove straight to Post Corner Pizza right on the beach for a late lunch. I love greek pizza and hadn’t been to Post Corner in 10 years. Also, Sherry called us that morning and when it was confirmed that we were coming, she met us there. I was happy to see Sherry, but I felt guilty that we were unable to see everyone else. After lunch, we just walked across the street to the beach so the kids could wade a little bit and squish their toes in the sand. (I wish we’d had time to actually go swimming) They had a blast. We asked the kids not to get their clothes wet and they sort of tried. But, Roan, who are we trying to kid? They collected shells, I took pictures and Sherry took this one of the family: What's wrong with this picture?

Anyway, quick lunch, quick wade in the ocean then we stopped at Dairy Curl on the way back up Gulf to Bay. Had to, revisiting the childhood and all. Then I drove the kids past what I still and always will call Maranatha Chapel, my schools, and the house I grew up in, which has been all ‘tacky-fied’. They tore down the magnolia tree and three palm trees and replaced it, the whole front yard, with a circular drive-way! There is a giant C on the side of the house, too. Hmmph.
We then needed to head back to Orlando for dinner reservations in Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Café. Dinner was very good and yes, once again Roan fell asleep in the restaurant before his dinner came. Here he is asleep in daddy’s lap with his arms in his shirt because he was cold. Gotta love him!
Roan Quote: “So far, I want to live at the Magic Kingdom!”